Bill Blewett was moseying through the Canfield, Ohio, swap meet in 1999 when he was overcome by a beat-up old Chevy truck that was giving him the eye. Why did he suddenly feel such an attraction to this 40-year-old workhorse that was rougher than an old corncob? No one can explain it, but we all know it when it happens-all of a sudden this inanimate hunk of Detroit iron might as well be an attractive member of the opposite sex, because the following dumbfounded state of cerebral activity is about the same. The only difference may be that more guys probably know what makes a truck tick (or why it's not for that matter) than the previously mentioned.
Bill's close member of the opposite sex (a.k.a. his wife Bobbi) breeds Burmese Mountain dogs and didn't even put up a fuss about Bill's new affair as long as it all came out of his pocket. Actually, she was glad to have him out of her hair. With all the fervor of new love, Bill tore apart his new '59 Chevy Fleetside so he could execute "the big plan." The only problem was that he didn't know what that was yet except that it was "going to be nice." Well, he had one shop start in on the '59, but it was soon yanked due to the results. It was then brought home where he tinkered on it, but was soon left in hibernation for a year to gather his thoughts and actually formulate "the plan."
One night, while watching Hot Rod TV, Bill saw a truck that caught his eye that happened to have been built by Chris Smith, who he found out didn't live too far away. Bill wanted to pursue that lead, but got sidetracked until he saw the black '58 Chevy that Chris built here in the pages of CLASSIC TRUCKS and finally got on the horn and tracked him down. As it turns out, Chris owns a shop in Tiffin, Ohio, that has built a number of outstanding cars and trucks. The two of them tried to get together, but it wound up taking another year.
From here on out things went pretty quickly for the crew at Smitty's Custom Automotive-another year to be exact-from start to finish.
Luckily for Bill, Smitty's knew exactly what to do. They tore into the truck's chassis, and besides smoothing the rails and adding a hefty C-notch in the rear, they also welded in a TCI Mustang II front clip that holds Air Ride's A-arms, 'bags, and HAL Street Star shocks. Wilwood 12-inch rotors and polished calipers were tucked behind the 18- and 20-inch Colorado Custom Winter Park wheels, while a Stainless Steel Brakes 1-inch bore master cylinder squeezes the fluid through all the stainless lines. An AGR rack hooks to the ididit chrome tilt column where comfortably the Colorado Custom steering wheel is perched. They guys at Smitty's seem to be well-versed and proficient at all aspects of a turnkey build, so they also handled the trim job after just about every seam was welded up and each panel smoothed of its scars from its life of hard work. Only after all of this was the '59 shot in a custom PPG Orange Pearl mix by the team in Ohio. Bill even jumped into the labor part of the project at this point to tackle the bed wood. He made all the necessary planks out of some beautiful oak and proceeded to tint them a slight orange to add yet another little custom touch.
The aforementioned upholstery job was done with great care by Smitty's to complement their work on the glassy sheetmetal surfaces of the truck, which still plays a big part of the interior layout. A Tahoe center row bench seat was covered in tan leather and flanked by matching RodDoors panels and carpet to round out the soft stuff. Elsewhere in the cab we find a custom dash with a No Limit gauge panel stuffed with Auto Meter's Ultra Light gauges, a powerful Pioneer stereo, Vintage Air, and Air Ride controls. There's even a hidden compartments in the step areas of the floor that sneakily conceals the Optima battery and wiring, clean.
Last, but not least-the drivetrain. A '70 Chevy 350 was punched out 0.060-over and balanced with the new Keith Black slugs. The COMP hydraulic 0.453-inch lift cam controls the valves in the Edelbrock Performer RPM polished heads that are accompanied by a matching Air Gap Endurashine intake and 650-cfm Mighty Demon carb. An MSD Pro Billet small HEI ignition starts the fire that gets sent out the Hedman Tight-Tubes 1 5/8-inch headers and custom mandrel-bent stainless 2 1/2-inch pipes by Smitty's, complete with 40 Series Flowmasters. The GM Performance valve covers top the motor off along with the K&N-stuffed Billet Specialties air cleaner. March Performance pulleys adorned with a Tuff Stuff chrome alternator, water pump, power steering pump, and a Be Cool radiator precede the potent small block and Turbo 350. Bringing up the rear is a Smitty's built 9-inch Ford with a 3.73:1 True-Trac that's suspended by a No Limit four-link kit and Air Ride ShockWaves.
After six years and more than a couple of bucks, the '59 was roadworthy and just in time for last year's show season where it was a finalist for Goodguys' Late Truck of The Year also receiving a Boyd Coddington Pro's-Pick at Columbus, and none other than a CLASSIC TRUCKS Top Ten pick at its first show. What can we say, we're impressed. Bill learned many things along the way, most important of which he says was to get a plan together and stick to it!
|Facts & Figures |
1959 Chevy Fleetside
|CHASSIS ||FRAME: stock |
MODIFICATIONS: smoothed, rear C-notch
REAREND / RATIO: Ford 9” 3.73:1 True-Trac
REAR SUSPENSION: No Limit 4-link, Air Ride Shockwaves
REAR BRAKES: Wilwood 12” disc
FRONT SUSPENSION: TCI Mustang II, Air Ride
FRONT BRAKES: Wilwood 12” disc
STEERING BOX: AGR rack &pinion
FRONT WHEELS: Colorado Customs Winter Park 18x8”
REARS: Colorado Customs Winter Park 20x10”
FRONT TIRES: Bridgestone Pole Position 3 225/40R18
REAR TIRES: Bridgestone Pole Position 3 285/30R20
GAS TANK: No Limit
CHASSIS BUILT BY: Smitty’s Custom Automotive Tippin, OH
|DRIVETRAIN ||YEAR AND MAKE: ’70 Chevy 360 |
HEADS: Edelbrock Performer RPM
VALVE COVERS: GM Performance
MANIFOLD / INDUCTION: Edelbrock Air Gap / Demon 650cfm
IGNITION: MSD Pro Billet
HEADERS: Hedman Tight Tubes 1 5/8”
EXHAUST / MUFFLERS: custom 2 1/2” mandrel-bent stainless / Flowmaster 40 Series by Smitty’s
|BODY ||STYLE: short-bed Fleetside |
FENDERS FRONT / REAR: stock
GRILLE: stock chrome
BED: stock molded
BODYWORK AND PAINT BY: Smitty’s
PAINT TYPE / COLOR: PPG / custom orange pearl by Smitty’s
HEADLIGHTS / TAILLIGHTS: stock
BUMPERS: stock chrome front, roll pan rear
BED WOOD: orange-tinted oak by owner
|INTERIOR ||DASHBOARD: Auto Meter Ultra Light |
AIR CONDITIONING: Vintage Air
STEERING WHEEL: Colorado Customs Winter Park
STEERING COLUMN: ididit
SEATS: Chevy Tahoe
UPHOLSTERY BY: Smitty’s
MATERIAL / COLOR: leather / tan